Tweelingfiets (twin bike)

tweelingfiets 1

tweelingfiets 2

This is called a “tweelingfiets”. It’s a special Dutch bike for carrying multiple kids and this example seems to date from the 1970′s. At first glance it looks like a modified tandem but it’s not. It’s a “longtail” city bike produced in series around when most of the designers of current longtails and xtracycles were just a glint in their dad’s eye. That doesn’t detract from the Xtracycle and the growing crop of modern longtails, but does show that many ideas come around a few times… especially when it comes to bikes.

I know of at least 4 firms that have produced a tweelingfiets but this type is the oldest. I’m actually not exactly sure who built these but I’m guessing Van Raam who builds or has built frames for a number of firms including: Gazelle, Grimminck, ‘t Mannetje and Utopia Velo.

This particular bike, parked around the corner from my house, has a particularly nice arrangement of child seats. It’s very social for the kids in back. Quite ironically I saw it later today, but with a child facing forward on the rear facing seat.

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13 Responses to “Tweelingfiets (twin bike)”

  1. David Hembrow Says:

    I have an Xtracycle, and while I like it, I have to say that the machine you have photographed has a number of advantages over the modern type. Basically, it comes down to it being Dutch. It’s not a modified mountain bike, so it’s designed for a long life of everyday use in all weathers.

    My Xtracycle has been outfitted with mudguards, a partial chain guard to at least keep my trousers clean, modified handlebars etc. However, it’s all a bit of a compromise compared with this.

  2. henry Says:

    Hi David,
    Yes, it’s easy to underestimate the utility and completeness of a Dutch utility bike until you try to build one yourself. Designing and producing our own bikes has sometimes been a humbling experience; Designing all the parts to fit together perfectly, getting the various manufacturers to cooperate, doing it for an economical price and with reliable delivery. A fully integrated city bike is many times more complicated than the stripped, recreational bikes sold by most of the world’s mainstream bike industry. The marketing firm can basically order those bikes out of a catalog from China or Taiwan.

  3. Badial Says:

    I am afraid you a bit misinterpreted sence of first rear seat black tube. It looks like not back suport but handle bar.

  4. henry Says:

    Badial,
    No, that is definitely a child seat mounted backwards. It’s a GMG model 910 seat, but missing it’s backrest padding. These are very common here in Holland though production of this model was stopped and replaced with the model 911 last year. You can see it here:
    http://www.fietskinderzitje.com/collection3.asp?cat_id=2&collection_id=4&dessin_id=26

  5. tyler Says:

    Nice.
    I love the low step Kruis-like front end. So simple and effective. So Dutch.
    We have had good success with the Xtra & Mundo with but both seem to miss the need for the step thru.
    We also get quite a few requests from folks who REALLY want a two seat option. Can I fit 2 GMG’s on the Fr8 rear carrier?

  6. henry Says:

    Tyler,
    I agree that even though these bikes were basically made from “borrowed” tandem and single bike frame parts the result is fairly attractive, especially considering it’s just a bike made to fit a specific need.

    Yep, two GMG 910 or 911 seats will fit onto the Fr8 rear carrier. The 911 has built in footrests while with the 910′s you’ll need to bolt footrests into the little tubes in the frame and carrier… That’s what they’re there for.

    When using rear child seats on the Fr8 don’t forget to add foot protectors! We’ve got them but they can also be fabricated from plastic easily enough.

  7. sara Says:

    Hi Henry–
    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I hope I run into another bakfiets owner in New Haven but haven’t in the past two years. With the university, this town tends to have some serious turnover. I am just so thankful for the internet for it not only led me to Clever Cycles (Are there any bakfietsen distributors on the East Coast?), but it allowed me to be in touch with a number of bakfiets owners so I was able to get numerous reviews before making the purchase. I am hoping that my posting leads interested folks to me– Would love to see more bakfietsen around.
    Cheers,
    sara

  8. henry Says:

    Hi Sara,
    I figured that you’d have mentioned it if you’d seen another bakfiets in town. The other bike was a strange situation. A lawyer bought it, apparently intending to use it for the office. I never heard anything about kids. It’s quite possible the bike just lives indoors and doesn’t get out much.

    The closest to the east coast we’ve gotten so far is Chicago. But we’re talking to a couple parties about a NY dealership and think that will happen fairly soon.

  9. Jenn Says:

    Hey there– just found your blog, and love it! The pic above is most intriguing to me because of the skirt guard– do you know of anywhere in the US where I could get one, or any ideas on how to DIY it myself? I wrote about this one but would love to hear other options: http://tinychoices.com/2008/06/03/diy-skirt-guard/

    Also, of even potentially more interest to me, is an add-on/DIY chain guard… thoughts would be most welcome! (I ride a NYC-modified old mountain bike).

    Jenn

  10. henry Says:

    Jenn,
    Almost all bikes in the Netherlands have skirt/jacket/child foot guards, but they’re made to work with fenders that are made to work with skirt guards. In other words it’s a combination and there are different guards for each size fender/wheel/seatstay angle. The guards you see on the bike in the photo are aftermarket items from Bobike, and it’s very unlikely they’re available in the USA. We can ship them though the postage would cost more than the guards themselves.

    Full coverage chain cases as found on almost all Dutch bikes are generally impossible to fit to other bikes, or would at least require extensive modifications. Again the chain case needs to be matched to the specific crank and chainring size as well as the chainstay length and rear dropout type. There are simple, single sided chain guards to keep your trousers clean (but unfortunately not the chain) but even these won’t fit any bike with derailleur gearing.

    Seriously, a mountain bike cannot be converted into a proper all-weather utility bike without enormous investments of time and/or money. Then even after all that trouble you’ll have a bike with the wrong geometry and several major compromises. Maybe it’s time to invest in a real utility bike? You’ll use it daily for the next couple decades.

  11. Jenn Says:

    Henry, thanks for your reply! I wish I could upgrade to a real commuter/utility bike, but I currently live in a third-floor walkup apartment, and so I leave my bike locked outside year-round. When I used to have to carry it up and down everytime I wanted to ride, I rode a whole lot less frequently… I’ve got one of the Kryptonite NYC chains, and locked-on wheels and seat, which seems to work fine (plus, with all of my add-ons, the bike is a Frankenbike at this point so somewhat unappealing to thieves, I think!)

    Do look forward to the day when I can ride something better– but also really appreciate not having to worry about my ride being outside 24/7.

  12. Kes Says:

    Hi, could one of you tell me where i can buy such a bike???

  13. henry Says:

    Kes, This bike has been out of production for probably 15 or 20 years but ‘t Mannetje in Haarlem and Fietsfabriek in Amsterdam still make twin bikes. We (WorkCycles) offer the very popular Fr8 with a rear carrier long enough for two child seats.

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